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What Are the Duties of a Steward on a Ship?

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The duties of a steward can vary greatly depending on the size of ship he works on. In general, the majority of stewards work in galley or housekeeping departments. They carry a Merchant Mariner Credential, or MMC, and are designated as "Ordinary Seaman." Instead of working on deck and navigating the ship, stewards are employed as cooks, waiters, bartenders, chambermaids and more. No prior experience is needed when applying for an MMC.

Galley Duties

Stewards in the galley department of a ship work in the kitchen or an area with kitchen facilities. Galley duties include preparing, cooking and serving meals to ship passengers. Setting tables and buffet lines is something also expected from stewards. Other galley-related duties can include pouring wine or garnishing food.

Housekeeping Duties

Stewards in the housekeeping department of a ship fulfill maintenance and service duties. Specific tasks include cleaning staterooms, linens and common areas of the vessel. The umbrella role of housekeeper can extend to a variety of duties which include washing laundry, making beds, vacuuming floors and cleaning restrooms.

Sales and Entertainment Duties

On large cruise ships, stewards may be commissioned to work in sales or entertainment departments. Sales duties can include working in beauty salons, massage parlors or souvenir shops. Entertainment duties can range from planning activities for kids to working in a casino.

Miscellaneous Duties

Although steward duties primarily lie in the galley and housekeeping departments of a ship, other obligations may arise when there is a shortage of workers. A steward's miscellaneous duties can include temporarily becoming one the following: purchaser/provisioner (supplies beverages, toiletries, linens or other amenities), tour guide, interior decorator and personal assistant. Stewards are oftentimes hired as personal assistants for guests on more luxurious boats, such as yachts. Aboard these types of vessels, duties are not usually restricted to a particular department. Rather, they come in the form of personal request.


Kevin Belhumeur began writing and editing in 2008. He has written sports-related articles for the "Newport Beach Daily Pilot" and has copy-edited for the "UCLA Daily Bruin." Belhumeur holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California-Los Angeles.

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